The Digital Camera That Drowned My Dad’s Business

I was fifteen when I first saw a digital camera.

I was out with my dad for a client visit and one of his customers showed him the newly arrived range of cameras that had just hit the market. It was grey and was made up of sturdy plastic. It had a small lens and a flash unit on the front and a small LCD screen on the rear side. There were a whole bunch of buttons to change the settings, view previously shot images, and zoom them if necessary. There was no Lithium-ion battery, so the only alternatives were the commercially available AA batteries or expensive rechargeable Ni-Cad batteries.

The shopkeeper said, “The resolution of the camera is 1.2 Megapixels and it can store up to 200 photos.”

But my dad was not impressed. He asked the client “How much does it cost?”

The client said “Around Rs.12,000”

My dad said “Nobody would pay that much to take photos. How many pictures will they take? A normal use and throw camera that sells for Rs.500 will do the job”

When we walked out of the client’s place, I asked him “Dad! Why don’t we sell those digital cameras? I think it will be a hit.”

He replied saying “Digital cameras are just fancy. Nothing can beat film cameras”.

Being a photo album and frames distributor and salesman, my dad couldn’t accept the fact that digital photos are the future. He never thought in the next ten years people will be obsessed with taking pictures and billion-dollar companies would be built around them.

He strongly believed that people would use film cameras, print their photos, and cherish them by putting them in an album or a frame. He was right, but not for long.

By the time I was seventeen, the photo album sales fell drastically and my dad was out of business. The photo album market which was flourishing for several decades took a hit due to the rise of affordable digital cameras and computers.

The stocks in our warehouse went nowhere and my dad was at home wondering what went wrong. But, I knew what went wrong. The market started evolving and his business was not.

The rise in technological advancements and the quick adoption rates among customers is rapidly changing the way businesses function. Businesses are pushed to a position where they need to think beyond sales and distribution. They are in a position to constantly look for market trends to stay afloat.

Let’s take a look at a few cases of companies that had the best and worst from foreseeing the market.

The ‘Nokia’ Problem

For a very long time, Nokia was the undisputed champion in the global mobile market.

People would buy anything made by Nokia as the brand was known for its reliability and performance. But, Nokia failed to play the catch-up game when it came to smartphones.

But, Samsung came up with a range of Corby smartphones that were attractive and affordable. When the entire market was waiting for Nokia to launch a cool smartphone to compete with Corby, Nokia continued to sell new variants of their feature phones.

Within the next couple of years, Samsung went a step ahead and started selling phones with a new open-source operating system, Android. It offered customization, performance, and a great user experience. The success of Android phones increased Samsung’s market share globally.

Now, users who wanted to buy an Android phone were waiting for Nokia to release their version of the Android device. But the company did not make one. In the meantime, Samsung was far ahead in the race.

To compete with Samsung and other players like Apple (that released iPhone in 2007), Nokia partnered with Microsoft in 2011 to sell Lumia, phones with Windows mobile operating systems.

When the entire customer base was waiting for an Android-powered Nokia smartphone, the company went to build and sell windows phones.

Result?

By 2013, Nokia fell from the #1 position to #10 in smartphone sales. In 2012, When Apple shipped 26 million iPhones and other makers shipped 105 million Android Phones, Nokia was able to ship only 6.8 million Symbian devices and 5.4 million Windows phones. This had a huge impact on the company. By the end of 2013, the company laid off 24,500 employees.

Chris Weber, head of Nokia’s subsidiary in the U.S. said that “The reality is if we’re not successful with Windows phones, it doesn’t matter what we do elsewhere”.

By the end of 2014, the company’s brand value fell to 98th place.

In 2016, the Nokia branded smartphone business came under HMD global that started selling Android-based Nokia phones since 2017.

The ones who had Forseen

There are numerous companies that evolved with the market in successful ways. Google is a great example. The company was closely following the launch of smartphones and clearly understood that the future is mobile. When the time was right, the company acquired Android, an open-source operating system for mobile phones. Now, Android runs on more than 80% of the smartphones used all over the world.

Another good example of a predictor is Elon Musk who constantly identifies upcoming trends and rides the wave. He started his journey with Zip2, a web software that licensed online city guides to newspapers. He later pivoted to making a payments company (PayPal), an electric car company (Tesla), and a company that manufactures reusable rockets (SpaceX).

His constant lookout for market trends is what made him successful.

Foreseeing the Future

When I look back, I see several similarities between my dad’s business and Nokia's. They both believed in their products and thought that it would take too long for the new trend to pick up. But, when things started changing rapidly, they couldn’t play catch up.

In today’s world, businesses should think beyond what they’re today. They should think about what they will do tomorrow. On one side businesses should keep implementing new technologies to please their customers like establishing online stores; Providing the latest payment methods like UPI, Cash on Delivery, Easy EMI options, etc; on the other hand watch out for new trends that could impact the sales of their goods and services.

This not only applies to businesses. It also applies to individuals. A developer who is well-versed in C and C++ at some point should reskill himself to learn the latest technologies and frameworks that power AI and machine learning tools. Foreseeing the future will not only make you an early mover but will also make you a thought leader when the industry is ripe.

There is a saying that in business one should “Re-skill or perish”. Reskilling comes from keeping oneself updated about the latest news in the industry and the ability to see where it is headed. The final decision should be dependent on a lot of factors such as reading industry reports, expert opinions, and trends in the job market. The preparation is similar to preparing to invest in stocks. You need to do enough research before going ahead with an option.

I know it is not easy. But, if done correctly, it will pay off in a big way.

Successful Tinder Users Are Potential Product Marketers

What do Tinder users and Product Marketers have in common? A lot!

They both write punchlines to grab the reader’s attention. Do A/B testing to see which version of their content works best. Only have a few seconds to grab the attention of the visitors. And, they both worry about lead conversion rates.

Tinder is slowly turning its users into marketers.

The rise of online dating apps is giving hundreds of partner options for everyone out there. And, a person only has a few seconds to grab the attention of their potential partner and to make them swipe right.

Matchmaking that was once about personality is now about cool pictures, eye-catching bios, and cheesy pickup lines.

The History of Matchmaking

The process of matchmaking in India was very different a couple of decades back. A majority of people got into a relationship only when they got married. Love marriages and casual relationships were less common, but happened among people who went to college together, worked together, or when they lived in the same neighborhood. This is not the case just with India.

A study among five thousand marriages in 1932 by sociologist James Bossard shows that one-third of the couples lived within a five-block radius, and one in eight couples lived in the same building before they got married.

But, the beginning of the 21st century has greatly reduced the distance between people with social media applications. And, on the other hand, there’s also been a huge cultural shift that changed the way people looked at love and relationships.

The Culture Shift

During the 80s and early 90s, breakups were hardly a thing. People often struggled with a bad relationship and called it their fate. When the lead male or female in a movie says “I loved another person before loving you”, it was considered a major plot twist in the movie. But, that it not the case anymore.

And saying words like dates, casual relationships, and hookups were frowned upon and considered a sin.

But, things have changed. The younger generation has matured a lot. They are okay with getting out of a relationship if it is not working out, and they’d like to go on dates to evaluate potential partners. This doesn’t eradicate the issues that prevailed during the 90s. But, it is good to see that a majority of the younger generation is more clear about what they want out of a relationship.

India is undergoing a culture shift in terms of love and sexuality, a shift that is similar to the one in the US during the 1960s and 70s.

Marketing to find a Match

The progressive nature of the Indian youth led to the arrival of online dating apps like Tinder, Truly Madly, Aisle, etc.

Even though they greatly reduced the effort of finding a potential partner, apps like Tinder do come with baggage.

Tinder greatly minimizes the possibility of a meet-cute.

Meet-cutes have now become virtual. If you wish to impress someone you like, you’ll have to go now through their smartphone to grab their attention.

With so many options available on apps like Tinder, it only takes a person a few seconds to decide if a person is “meet-worthy”.

And, every person who signs up markets themselves in a unique way in the hopes of getting right swiped. An experience Tinder user I spoke to said that the right combination of profile bio and picture can get you as many as two matches per day. He says that if you’re not getting any matches within two days, you’ll have to change your bio and picture.

There are hundreds of articles to help you write a cool bio and numerous apps that use A.I. to analyze your picture and help you decide whether it is right for your tinder bio.

And, then comes the pick-up lines. There are articles and forums that discuss the best pick-up lines and best ways to ask someone out.

By learning to write catchy headlines, trying different Tinder bios for efficiency, and impressive pick-up lines a person more or less becomes a complete marketer. At a point, it comes to selling a better version of oneself.

The downside of this is, when two people meet, they often end up selling the best version of themselves to each other.

This creates an awkward and difficult experience for both parties when they meet in person.

The Personality Gap

The mismatch between online and real personalities is very common with dating apps. When I spoke to a couple of people who constantly go out on dates, they said that several times they felt awkward during a date because the other person is not as excited as they were during the online conversation.

This is a common trend among people who are new to Tinder. By the time they learn how to identify the difference between real and fake personalities, they would’ve had enough awkward experiences.

Tinder and Social Pressure

Apart from all the good things, dating apps introduce constant pressure among youth. Today’s youth, who are open about their relationships, frown upon people who are single. A person who is single is considered incompetent among their circle and is often mocked upon. Being in a relationship has now become a social status. To avoid that, people rush to dating apps hoping to find a partner.

Not getting right-swiped and not going on dates for a long time is putting enough stress on the younger generation, especially men. A study conducted by the University of North Texas says that male Tinder users reported lower levels of satisfaction with their faces and bodies and lower levels of self-worth than those not on the dating app.

BBC article that cites the study quotes Trent Petrie, professor of psychology at the University of North Texas, who says:

“With a focus on appearance and social comparisons, individuals can become overly sensitized to how they look and appear to others and ultimately begin to believe that they fall short of what is expected of them in terms of appearance and attractiveness.”

“We would expect them to report higher levels of distress, such as sadness and depression, and feel more pressures to be attractive and thin.”

In a survey ran by humanetech among 200000 iPhone users, Tinder occupies 9th place in the most unhappy apps section. It reported that 56% of users were unhappy.

The Road Ahead

Tinder provides great value. But, one should learn to use it wisely.

Tinder users should take a step back from marketing themselves too much. They should try to exhibit their true personality which might lead them to have a good experience when they meet their match in person.

But, the experience one gets out of using an online dating app is very valuable. It teaches a great deal about marketing.

You never know! There might be a future where companies might hire marketers based on their success rate on Tinder. This is similar to how startups hire marketers and social media managers based on their Social media profiles and blog.

This will put the lives of marketers like me at risk. I hardly had any success when I used the app back in 2017. Maybe I am a marketer who doesn’t oversell.


The Unseen Struggle of Food Bloggers

Food bloggers play a major role in today’s food scene. They’re a small group of passionate people who visit restaurants and try new dishes every day (or during most days of a week). If they think a place is good, they recommend it to those who follow them on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube. This, in general, is known as Influencer marketing, which is considered as one of the hottest custom acquisition methods today.

Social media is filled with food bloggers who try to make a mark in the crowded influencer market.

When I looked at all the accounts that had hundreds of pictures of delicious food, I had two questions on my mind. The first one was “How do food bloggers make money?”. The second one was “What effect does eating out have on their bodies?”

When I decided to dig a little deeper, I started talking a few well-known food bloggers from the city. I also ran a small survey among people who are food bloggers and influencers on Facebook groups and Instagram.

What I heard and found out was quite shocking. The life of food bloggers is not as fancy as it looks on their Instagram or Facebook account. It is a tough nut to crack. Food blogging is difficult and it is constantly filled with physical, mental, and financial roadblocks.

Only 42% of food bloggers make money out of paid promotions

Does Food Bloggers make money?

According to a survey conducted in 2017, influencer marketing was considered one of the fastest-growing customer acquisition methods. A study estimated that organizations would spend close to $2.38 billion in 2019 on influencer marketing. This includes spending money to pay influencers, giving them freebies, running contests, etc.

Food bloggers roughly spend Rs.60,000 - Rs. 1,20,000 every year for food.

But, the reality is different. A majority of the time, food bloggers are not getting paid. The survey I conducted showed that only 42% of food bloggers make money out of paid promotions. And, only 14% of bloggers make money through ads. The remaining 44% is not getting paid. Even though some of them do this for passion, a sizeable portion of aspiring food bloggers makes no money.

When I asked a Chennai-based food blogger how she manages to get paid promotions, she said “Usually once you build a good amount of followers, brands approach you for promoting their food and events. If your engagement is good and if you have a good number of followers, you can think about monetization”.

Why Monetization is Difficult?

Monetization is difficult as restaurants often consider offering free food as a means of paid promotion. So, getting paid on top of that is not impossible, but difficult. I experienced this several times in the past when I was a clueless blogger in 2013 (I am still clueless, but I realized it). I was often called to try out new restaurants, but the incentive was free food and nothing less.

And, even when restaurants don’t offer them any incentive, food bloggers rush to newly opened restaurants and cover them on their blog as they don't want to lose followers. Since the competition is heavy, they often spend money from their pockets to try new dishes. This burns a huge hole in their pocket.

When I asked a food blogger about this, she said “I pay for 90% of whatever I post. I post my genuine opinion about a dish without any bias”

Close to 50% of food bloggers spend Rs.5000 - 10000 every month to eat out. This is a heavy price to pay to keep up the followers in the hopes of eventually doing paid promotions.

If you extrapolate, you can see that food bloggers roughly spend Rs.60,000 - Rs. 1,20,000 every year. That is a ton of money!

The deteriorating health

25% of food bloggers have gained more than 11 Kgs and 37% of them gained 7-11 kgs since they started blogging. And, a whopping 62% of bloggers constantly experience digestive disorders like GERD, heartburn, etc.

This is alarming!

Only 25% of the bloggers maintain 150-300 minutes of physical activity every week.

Their love for food is taking a toll on their body. Food critics who once wrote for newspapers and magazines did not face this problem. They usually write a weekly column or a story about one restaurant. They visit a restaurant, try out their food (not eat them all) and write about it. Their frequency in eating out is low and thus they had fewer health problems.

But, today, things have changed. Food bloggers should constantly prove their presence. There is no “taking it slow”. This pushes them to explore new restaurants almost every day.

Food bloggers should become aware of how much additives, salts, preservatives, and added sugar goes into their system when they eat out. Active food bloggers who eat out all the time should have a workout routine to keep their weight in check. Only 25% of the bloggers maintain 150-300 minutes of physical activity every week. The remaining portion of bloggers maintains only less than 90 minutes of physical activity per week. This increases the probability of several lifestyle disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, heart conditions and other serious digestive ailments like stomach and colon cancer.

The Future of Food Blogging

Restaurants and bloggers should bring up new initiatives to keep up the health of food bloggers. Restaurants often offer a large portion of dishes to food bloggers when they visit the restaurant. This either results in overeating, or wastage of food.

As an alternative, restaurants can offer small portions or an assortment of dishes (something we can call a “critic’s plate”) to food bloggers. They can have a spoonful of each dish and write about them.

Another effective option is to go to a restaurant as a group and try food together. You can take pictures and at the same time eat smaller portions.

Veteran food bloggers can help new bloggers by talking about the benefits of eating right, having an exercise routine. Even though making a living by eating out sounds exciting, the long term effects are something one must be prepared for.

Food bloggers also have the responsibility to recommend the right restaurants. If you’re a food blogger and if you think a restaurant adds more additives, or colors beyond a permissible level, ask your followers to steer clear.

Food and Food blogging is here to stay. Going forward, restaurants will focus on micro and nano influencers to promote their food. So, in the next couple of years, the number of food bloggers is going to increase in number. Those who’re trying to venture into food blogging should think through the challenges and have a strategy to stand out. And, the most important thing is, keep a check on your health. Because our body is the only place for us to live in.


This Is How Overloaded Restaurants Affect Your Dining Experience

If you’ve been to a restaurant in recent times and thought “How long will they take to bring me a bowl of fried rice?”, you’re not alone.

The rise of food delivery startups is overloading restaurants.

A restaurant that once served a limited number of customers is now accepting hundreds of orders from food delivery apps. They serve two times their regular customer base with the same service crew that was originally hired to only serve a certain number of customers.

But, It’s not a bad thing. One cannot blame the restaurant for taking more orders, right? Every business needs to achieve growth, and in this case, more orders mean more growth. But, there is also a steep downside to it.

With a limited service crew, several restaurants struggle to fulfill the orders they receive.

If you walk into a restaurant, you can visibly see the chaos. Delivery boys waiting outside the restaurant; Hungry dine-in customers waiting for their order; And, waiters constantly running between customers and delivery boys. In the middle of all this, they are occasional hiccups like misplaced orders, damaged packaging, delay in service, etc.

The Chefs and the managers are always under pressure as they work in a hurry. This creates a dip in the quality of the food, which was the primary reason for the success of a restaurant.

It is difficult to see my favorite restaurants in such a position. But, as customers, we should also understand that it will take a while for restaurants to play the catchup game. The penetration of technology and a sudden spike in business put them in a dilemma on whom to put first? The dine-in customer? or an online customer?

The answer is both.

Restaurants should learn to prioritize both types of customers. Customers order from home or walk into the restaurant with just one thing on their mind. To enjoy a good meal from their favorite restaurant.

Food delivery startups can be part of this cause by conducting programs on how to prioritize customers, manage incoming orders efficiently, handle reviews on social media, etc. This will help the restaurant management learn how to prioritize orders without putting too much pressure on their chefs and the service crew.

The next time you’re having a bad experience with a restaurant, don’t pick up your smartphone to write a bad review or give a bad rating. Instead, call up the restaurant and tell them about the issue. And, most times, the restaurant management will try to fix the issue. Give them a chance to make things right. A negative rating or a tweet might provide us with momentary relief. But, the impact it will have on a restaurant might be big.

Always remember, your rating can shut down someone’s favorite restaurant.

Why Following a Morning Routine Won’t Make You a Millionaire

Following a morning routine is one of the most written, studied, and preached practices when comes to productivity. Every time you visit the internet, there are high chances you might stumble onto one of the following headlines:

  • 10 Things millionaires follow soon after the wake-up
  • The 5-minute morning routine that will make you a successful entrepreneur
  • 17 Things you should do soon after you wake up
  • How following a morning routine will make you a billionaire

All such articles talk about a morning routine but hardly talk about how to become a millionaire. That’s for you to figure out.

Everyone who wakes up and follows a morning routine doesn’t become a millionaire. If that is the case, I would’ve become a millionaire by the time I graduated from college. But, following a morning routine has one exceptional benefit. It slowly brings discipline into your life. And, on top of that, it gives you the one thing that is hard to get these days — Time.

Rather than talking about how to make you a millionaire (which I haven’t figured out myself), let’s talk about some practical ways in which a morning routine can help you.

You’re Free from Social Chatter

Mornings are distraction-free as people hardly post anything on social media. Unless you have so many friends across different time zones, you hardly reach for your phone to check updates from your friends.

One good practice is to turn off the cellular data or put your mobile on silent until you’re ready for work. You can also use your phone’s Do Not Disturb (DND) mode by scheduling it from 11 PM to 8 AM.

Trust me, you’ll hardly notice the difference.

This gives you the time focus on other things like learning something new, work or plan something that you’ve been meaning to do for a long time. One practice I personally follow is to put my smartphone on charge as soon as I wake up. I won’t grab it until I am ready for work. I get two benefits out of this: One, I don’t reach for my phone in the morning hours. Two, I don’t have to charge my phone until the next morning.

Lifehack #1: You may ask “What if something important comes up? What if someone calls me for an emergency and I miss it?”

Technology offers a really simple way to solve this.

If you’re using the DND feature on an Android phone, you can configure it in such a way that when people you’ve marked as favorite call you more than once, or ring you within a 15 min window, the silent mode gets turned off and you hear the ringtone.

Getting Your Focus Is Easy

Over the last few years, we’re constantly being bombarded with so much content. We’re constantly exposed to listicles, infographics, images, blogs, videos, music, podcast, etc. If you think when was the last time you sat with a blank state of mind, you’ll be surprised to see that it was a long time ago.

There is a famous study that says that our average attention span is 8 seconds, which is more or less equal to the attention span of a goldfish. But, I disagree. Our attention span is fine. We can still focus on a longer period of time. But, we’re constantly bombarded with click baits and catchy content that makes us want to shift between them. It’s basically our greediness to consume everything interesting.

But, there’s a downside to all of this. If you can’t focus, then you can’t be on the path to achieving your goals.

If you’re thinking “How to get your focus?”, the answer is “meditation”.

And, the meaning of meditation doesn’t mean you’ll have to sit in the same place listening to your own breathing. (if you could do that, it’d be great!)

Meditation is doing something you love and paying absolute attention. It calms your mind, brings focus and makes your brain work better.

I read in a zen book that even washing plates with complete involvement has the benefit of meditating.

It can be anything from making tea, going for a run, to doing a hundred pushups every day. If you pay complete attention while doing it, you’re on your way to having more focus on everything else you do throughout your day.

You Get All the Time You Wanted

I write short stories, novels, blogposts; I sketch and draw; I read books; I practice photography; I take online courses and listen to podcasts. Whenever people see the end result, they always ask “Where do you find the time to do all this?”

And, always my answer is “I have so much time in the morning”.

If you’re passionate about learning a new skill, or an art form, the best way to do it is as soon as you wake up. The world around you will be asleep, and you will have all the time in the world to focus on what is important to you.

I usually write during the morning hours. Recently, I also started sketching in the morning, and the experience was delightful. When you’re in a calm, distraction-free atmosphere, the value you get out of it is abundant.

Mornings offer so much time for you to read, write, learn something new, workout (for which we always don’t find the time) and even cook yourself a healthy meal (which no one does these days).

Try a morning routine to feel better, and not to become a millionaire. You’ll become one if you’re meant to become one.

Don’t Stick to a Template

If you’re planning to follow a morning routine, what is your next step?

Buy all the books related to morning routines, read up all the articles, and make a plan? Nope.

Putting something in action is several hundred times better than reading up. So, don’t follow a template right out of the internet. If the template doesn’t fit you, you’ll be disappointed and lose all hope in following a morning routine.

Plan your routine based on trial and error. Wake up at 6 AM and see how much you can do before getting to work. If you think you need more time, try waking up at 5. Shuffle the order of tasks you’ve planned to do and see how it works. After a couple of iterations, you’ll land on to a perfect morning routine which you love and can follow.

I’ve been partially following a morning routine and the experience is very good. I’m able to accomplish more and my mood is better throughout the day. There is a saying — “time is money”. In that case, I am already a millionaire.

So, set your alarms, make up a plan, and see if you can follow it. And, always keep in mind that the best morning routine is the one that you design on your own. Because no one else knows you better.

Stop being too humble. You won’t get anywhere

I see a lot of articles on the internet where people talk about the importance of being humble. They say being humble will take you places. I agree. But, they forget to tell you that being too humble won’t take you anywhere.

There is a thin line between being humble and being too humble. The difference is big. One can take you to great heights, meanwhile the other can prevent others from knowing about you.

In the current world we live in, we should be the marketers of our own talent. If you’re too humble thinking people will recognise you for your work, then let me tell you this thing. People are often busy with their own lives. They won’t be able to see your potential unless you show them what you’ve got.

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I am not telling you to be arrogant or be a show-off. There is a thin line between telling “I can do it” and “I am the only person who can do it.” Always go for the first option.

Let’s take a look at what happens when you’re being too humble.

You will be perceived as a person with little or no confidence.

When you are too humble and hide yourself among the crowd, people will think you as the person who does not have enough confidence in his work.

When comes to becoming a leader, you are expected to talk about your skills and accomplishments and showcase your work with confidence.

You will lose leadership to others

When you are too humble, people who have lesser potential than you will talk their way into becoming a leader. You will be a follower, instead of being a leader. You will be working for a boss whom you hated when he or she was your colleague just because you thought its okay to be humble.

You won’t get to use your skills

You would’ve learned a skill with passion and commitment. But, if you aren’t using it at the right time, and waiting for people to find it out on their own, then you lose 100% opportunity to use that skill.

People will use you

If you’re too humble, others may take advantage of you. They will use you to get their work done. They will know that you won’t come out and say much about it. You will be the ladder for others’ growth. And, in most cases, people don’t appreciate the ladder they used, to climb to the top.

How to fix this

  • Speak up. If you think you have the skills to complete a task, come forward and tell your team that you’re equipped to do it.
  • Any time is good time. I know people who keep from doing things they love just because they think that that isn’t the right time! Don’t wait too long for the right time. The right time is when you are presented with an opportunity. Seize the moment and make it yours.
  • Be confident. Talk about your accomplishments and showcase your talent with confidence. You will be recognized as an expert only when you showcase your knowledge with confidence.
  • Don’t put others down. Being confident doesn’t mean coming off as arrogant. Voice your opinions and at the same time, appreciate others’ views. This will add value to your character and will make people truly appreciate you.

If you’re too humble and are experiencing any of the above problems, its time to come out of your cocoon. Its time to spread your wings and show your colours to the outside world.

Recap: 2016

Last year, things were pretty rough. I lost my dad and was pretty shaken up for a couple of months. When 2015 ended, I wished for a better year. With 2016 ending in a couple of hours, I would say the year had been better to me. Even though I see several people say “2016. End already!” I would like to be thankful for 2016 for being nice to me.

Wanna know how nice? Here are a few things that happened to me this year.

• Published my novella “The Extra Men” through Amazon. Got a few goods reviews and received way too much opinions about the climax. 

• My short story “Lucky who!” got published in a print publication along with several other talented short story writers. The book titled “After the floors” is a collection of short stories written based on 2015 floods in Chennai. 

• Became a full time content writer. Everyday is challenging and fun. 

• Sold my DSLR and explored mobile photography. 

• Traveled to seven places: Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Kozhikode, Pondicherry, and Tenkasi. 

• Made a lot of friends, and lost a few. (The force has to maintain a balance, I guess) 

• Went for a bloggers meet and got a gift voucher for Rs.1000 just for making the whole event lively. 

• Finished the first draft of my next project and I am really excited about it. Looking forward to publish it in 2017. 

• Bought a pair of Nike shoes. 

• Tasted authentic Hyderabadi Biriyani. (This is pretty important) 

• Finished my dinner at a nearby restaurant and when I was leaving, the person who served me dinner wished me “Happy New Year”

With this note, I am signing off tonight. Wanna hear something Cliched?“See you next year!”

Until next time ☺

Rakki Theatre

I love to go to a regular movie theater, especially when the movie is a big crowd-pleaser. It’s much better watching a movie with 500 people making noise than with just a dozen.

–          Steven Spielberg

I was eleven when I came to Chennai in 1999. I know nothing about the place. I was not aware of anything except that I had to study eleven subjects in my sixth grade. The thought was scary. After coming to Chennai, I was getting familiar with the neighborhood — Ambattur, which was quite underdeveloped during that time. Since the marina beach and Vandaloor zoo were far away, the only nearby entertainment we had were movie theaters. There were four movie theaters during that time. Rakki theatre, Murugan theater, Kannan theater which screened old movies for a cheaper price, and a small theater called Abirami which screened B-grade softcore movies. At eleven, the thought of going to Abirami theater never crossed my mind. By the time I grew up, the theatre was no more (what a pity!).

My first movie in Chennai was “Vaali” starring Ajith and Simran. My mom took me to the movie along with my mama and his family. My dad doesn’t watch a lot of movies. We saw the movie in Murugan theater. But I kinda didn’t like the theater. I felt like I didn't belong there. Then the next time, they took me to Rakki theater. The dungeon-like ticket counter, poorly maintained wooden seats, and smelly bathrooms should have made me hate the place. But it didn’t. I felt comfortable in spite of all those issues. When my mom and dad were abusing the theater’s poor maintenance, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie (I guess it was “Mudhalvan”. Not sure). Ever since Rakki was my movie destination. Till 2008, the ticket prices did not go above 50 rupees. So whenever I get money, I used to spend it on movies.

During festivals like Diwali and Pongal, my mom used to give money. If she gives a hundred bucks, watching two movies is the only thing that would cross my mind. I deeply fell in love with cinema and Rakki was the reason behind it. In a way, I would say that my love for storytelling started in Rakki theater.

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The photograph of Rakki theater taken by me in 2011

When I think about it now, the theater brings a lot of nostalgic memories like watching Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” with a jam-packed crowd, dancing with my friends for some song from “Thiruvilayadal arambam”, waiting at the ticket counter for the first day first show of “Casino Royale”, admiring the cinematography of “Porkalam” in an empty theater, screaming thalaivar’s name watching “Sivaji: The Boss”, the guy next to me who screamed at John Cusack for badly driving the limousine in the movie “2012”, and pathetic cries of people when they get a ticket for a tamil dubbed movie and the reel mistakenly plays the English version. Whenever I think about a movie, I also think about where I watched it and with whom I watched it. And most of my memories are tied to Rakki theatre.

When I see it now, the theater has developed a lot. Now, it is a flashy three-storey building with reflective glass on the outside. It has online ticket booking, cushion seats, and neatly maintained washrooms. Recently they have introduced 3D and Dolby Atmos sound system. What more can I ask for? I feel happy and proud to see my theater come this far from how it looked in 1999. I feel like it grew along with me, learning from its experiences, and adapting to the changing environment just for its love for cinema.

Many people consider movie theaters as just a venue to watch movies. But it has indirectly got a lot more to it. It has deep ties most of your childhood and teen memories. I still prefer Rakki rather than going to other big screens in the city. It makes me feel like home, and that is all I need from a theater.

I can judge you because I have seen imdb’s top 250!

People are judgemental. They have been; they are; and they will be. But, the percentage of them being judgemental has increased in the recent times. The cool quotient of a person is decided upon where he or she is working, what kind of music he or she listens to, or what kind of movies he or she likes. If a person likes something that doesn’t mean the whole world should be of his or her taste. People differ and so is their taste. As individuals one must respect the likes and dislikes of others. In my opinion that will solve our entire problem of misunderstanding and miscommunication.

When two guys talk in a group saying “Shawshank redemption is a great movie”, the others in the group will say “Yeah man! Brilliant!” even if they did not like the movie to that extent. Saying that “it was okay” would be considered a great sin. Many think that if they saw a couple of movies from imdb’s top 250, they are a movie buff. I haven’t watched several movies that are listed among the top 250. I have seen a lot of other movies that are equally good. They couldn’t find their place among the top 250 because there are only 250 positions.

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The movies in imdb are rated based on people’s votes. If you did not like a particular movie in spite of its rating, that doesn’t mean you enjoy a good movie. You did not like a particular movie. Hollywood isn’t gonna come knock your door and sue you for saying that it’s bad. So, when your friends or colleagues praise something and if you don’t like it, say that you don’t. If the other guy can induce your opinion by saying a movie’s good, you can do the same to the others by saying that it’s okay. If they take your opinion in a constructive way, then they are a bunch of open minded people. I respect them.

I have a friend who used to talk about movies a lot. He used talk about some good really good movies. I bet they are good. But, I won’t watch most of it because they don’t belong to my taste. I don’t want to watch a movie just for the sake of being his friend. You may like drama and your friend may like sci-fi movies. That doesn’t mean you have a great taste and he doesn’t.

I will watch a movie only if the plot is attractive enough to hook me in front of the screen.

I was once told that “I don’t know music” for telling my friend that a particular song is not that great. That is not the right way to treat others. I don’t want to be that music wizard who forces himself to like metallica. Instead I would like to be that left out person who listens to Simon & Garfunkel, or Maroon 5, or Nickelback.

Respect others taste. You will feel great and you will make others feel great.

Truth about people who're funny

In the modern age, being funny is considered a crime. People who are funny often face many of the situations mentioned below. Some people reading this might relate it to them, or some might say “How can you say something like that!”. Well, I am one of the “funny guys” like you people call it these days. I have been there and faced a lot of situations mentioned below (except for point 6). I am mentioning this because I will be asked questions on that point alone (I knew it!).

  1. If a person is funny, it doesn’t mean he is not serious
  2. If a person makes others smile, it doesn’t mean his life is problem free.
  3. If a person is funny, he will be liked by the girls but won’t be considered as a viable candidate for being in a relationship. When comes to relationship most girls look for a macho guy who doesn’t smile or crack jokes. He always has a “matured” look.
  4. If a person is funny, it doesn’t mean he isn’t smart. He could be smarter than all of you.
  5. Most people in a friend circle won’t share sensitive news with a person who is funny even if the person is their best friend. They ignore them because they think he/she won’t take it seriously. Funny people don’t laugh at funerals and other serious situations. We’re funny, not mental.
  6. Girls used to say “It would be great to have a boyfriend like you”. But they won’t say “It would be great to have you as a boyfriend”. 
  7. When some poor schmuck doesn’t get your joke he or she would say “You crack a poor joke” and he or she will start laughing. At such times, I will get a doubt on who is actually cracking a poor joke.
  8. People who crack jokes all the time will often face questions like “Are you always like this?” “How do your parents handle you?” They tape our mouths and kick us into the basement as soon as we enter the house.
  9. A humorous guy’s opinion is always underestimated. It’s because most of the time, they are considered as fools.
  10. Girls also have a great sense of humor. I know some girls with superb humor sense than guys. Those girls are usually called as “Loose” or “crack” (as if you got a noble prize for medicine last year).